Using a Drone Operator / Drone Contractor Audits
Drones can be extremely beneficial for an organisation, however the technology comes with unique risks that need to be managed. Regulation and legislation surrounding aviation, including the use of drones is incredibly complex. There are rogue operators in the marketplace and among those operators who are trying to be compliant there are often misunderstanding of the regulatory requirements
Whilst drones are often used to increase efficacy and enhance an organisation’s health and safety practises, non compliance can be a major issue. From creating threats to national security to crashing into power lines or other aircraft, drones pose a huge regulatory, safety and insurance challenge.
When using the services of a drone operator, it is important that your business is confident in both the skills and regulatory understanding of the contractor you are engaging with.
What Are The Biggest Risks When Using a Drone Operator?
Organisations are expected to be aware of laws and regulations in their State regarding safe work practises. Putting in place risk management procedures and having a firm understanding of your responsibilities as an employer may help you to avoid significant penalties and most importantly, harm to those who work for you. Company directors are expected to understand the risks people may face, and put the appropriate measures in place to minimise them.
The biggest risk associated with the use of a loss of control and subsequent crash of the drone. The outcome can not only be property and infrastructure damage, but more significantly, injury to the operator or people nearby. Many operators may think that typical smaller drones, such as the DJI Mavic and Aspire series pose a low risk. Unfortunately, even these smaller drones, weighing just one to two kilograms have the capability to cause a fatality or major damage to infrastructure when falling from typical operating heights. The reputational impacts on a business can be drastic and may lead to work safety investigations and prosecution.
The other major risk is operating a drone outside of the aviation rules and regulations, for example, in non approved air space. If a drone operator is found to be non compliant, an organisation and the operator may risk a loss of insurance cover, substantial fines and retraction of approvals and licenses.
How can I reduce the risks?
When engaging with a third party drone operator, there are many things to consider to reduce the risk to an organisation.
PAS recommends assessing:
- Operator’s level of experience
- Operator’s knowledge of the drone equipment being used and aviation regulations
- Weather conditions and location obstructions
- Potential interference from nearby transmitters
- Distance of operation from people, property and traffic
- Distance from high risk and designated danger areas
- Presence of wildlife hazards or protected areas
- Privacy and security requirements
To mitigate some of these risks, ensure your operator has the appropriate levels of education and training and can produce and use a drone manual with the relevant procedures and checklists. Developing a risk management culture and process for drone operations within your business and having the appropriate levels of insurance covering these operations is essential.
An independent audit of any drone operators you use is a great place to start, minimising the time and effort you need to spend to assure safety.
How can PAS assist?
Aviation regulations are complex, and organisations outside of this industry can not be expected to keep up to date with the latest rules and regulations. An audit of any drone operators your company uses can greatly assist risk management and enhance the organisation’s safety culture.
PAS offers a unique service whereby we are able to conduct a full audit on an organisation’s drone contractors to identify any possible areas of non compliance and levels of risk.
PAS has extensive auditing experience and all of our auditors are RePL (Remote Pilot License) holders. We have a professional yet friendly approach, and will conduct our services in a way that is easy to understand, and beneficial to everyone involved.
Given the complexity of the aviation industry and the serious risks involved, PAS’ experience and understanding of the legislation and regulations can provide peace of mind for an organisation and its management.
To ensure your operations are compliant and safe, contact us to discuss what type of auditing your business required.